Commentary

'Inc.' Cover Features First Pregnant CEO, While 'Forbes' Neglects Women Innovators

Inc. last week broke new ground for a business magazine by putting a visibly pregnant CEO on its cover — a refreshing sight after Forbes magazine’s recent list of 100 “most innovative” American business leaders included only one woman.

Audrey Gelman, cofounder-CEO of The Wing, appears on Inc.’s October cover cradling her baby bump. The accompanying story profiles Gelman’s fast-growing startup that provides co-working spaces for women.

The Wing has raised $117.5 million in venture capital to finance its expansion to 11 locations in the U.S. this year and another nine worldwide in 2020. Membership fees start at $185 a month with an annual commitment, and the company aims to have 15,000 members by the end of the year, Inc. reported.

Gelman’s cover appearance on a business magazine while visibly pregnant is a significant progression since Brownie Wise, the ingenuous marketer who popularized the Tupperware party, became the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week in 1954.

Before that, the first Fortune magazine cover featuring a photographed woman was in April 1942, with photojournalist Dmitri Kessel’s picture of “Rosie the Riveter,” a spokesperson told Publishing Insider.  

Forbes
magazine put women on the cover for the first time in 1943 with a story about real-life "Rosie the Riveters," according to a chronicle of the magazine’s coverage of women by Forbes staff writer Clare O’Connor.

Pop star Madonna appeared on the cover of Forbes as a solo female entrepreneur in 1990, and the magazine created its "100 Most Powerful Women" list in 2004. Forbes also has lists of "Richest Self-Made Women" and "America's Best-Paid Actresses."

The magazine isn’t a stranger to women’s workplace issues, making its list of "100 Most Innovative Leaders" even more disappointing for neglecting to mention more than a single woman: Barbara Rentler, CEO of Ross Stores.

Inc. magazine managed to find 100 women to profile for its special issue.

Randall Lane, editor of Forbes, last week acknowledged in a post that its analysis focused on a handful of big companies, where women are under-represented as CEOs. He explained the list wasn’t compiled by Forbes editors, but by an algorithm.

The magazine should have “used this moment to delve into the larger problem of women ascending to CEO. We own that,” Lane wrote. “Our methodology was flawed, as well — at a minimum when it came to being more expansive with who was eligible to be ranked.”

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